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it's not like some scary movie. this really happened. >> i remember falling on my knees. >> you just think, i want to live. i have to do something. >> it was a miracle they lived through it. just two frightened kids. the night terror knocked on their door. >> he pulled out a .357, and he said, "move over here." >> a loving pastor's family, instant targets. >> i heard the first shot going off and i said i love you, mom, i love you, dad. >> they were the only ones who survived, and no one knew then how long justice would take. or what it would cost. >> were you frightened, terrified that they would come back and try to kill you? >> absolutely.
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>> the killing manhunt. a young survivor driven to become a state senator. >> he was very, very passionate. >> would they ever come out of the dark? >> i always get a little emotional, and i can't believe it's been this long. >> 30 years later, an answer. >> forgiveness and mercy. >> this is what my dad and my mom taught me. >> their powerful journey to hell and back. "the haunting." good evening and welcome to "dateline." i'm ann curry. tonight the story of a teenage boy and his little sister, whose lives were changed forever one night by a stranger at the door. though they suffered a terrible crime and unfathomable loss, they show us it is possible to heal, even to forgive. here's keith morrison.
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>> he's in his 40s now, married again, starting fresh, here on the beach of malibu. time finally to put it to rest. use hollywood to release those demons of his, get the nightmares in the rearview mirror. >> i look back, and it's just building this code of honor. and that was killing me and it was killing my marriages, my friendships. it was protecting me, but it was keeping me away from people that i love. >> after all, what else but a movie could make sense of it? what those people did to him. and then what came of it. you couldn't make up. and the movie, it turned out to be, a decades-long saga of crime and punishment, retribution and forgiveness. perhaps it was too unbelievable not to be true. though back where it happened, back east along the old route 66
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where it snakes through oklahoma, where his sister lives with demons of her own, a warning. >> it was really true. it's not like, you know, some scary movie that you watch on tv or, you know, a "csi" or whatever show it is you're watching. this really happened. >> yes, it all did. the unspeakable crimes. the strange, painful past toward punishment. and then, could there ever be forgiveness? god knows, that's what the father demanded. >> god knows all about us. there's not a secret crevice of our heart that he's not fully aware of. >> but could the son obey? >> god never expects of us that which we cannot do. god never demands of us what he does not empower. >> imagine now that it's 1979 a little place called okarche, oklahoma. commutable drive into oklahoma
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city, as people were discovering back then. before it happened. >> okarche is a smaller community and pretty quiet, peaceful little town. >> reporter: and to be frank, the douglases didn't quite live in okarche proper. they preferred a modest little place way out by itself, miles beyond the streetlights. a little detail worth keeping in mind later. but mention the douglas name back in '79, and this would be the location people would be apt to think of. the putnam city baptist church of oklahoma city. where the reverend richard douglas and family had established a remarkable reputation. >> richard douglas was one of the most influential baptist pastors in oklahoma. and at the time was pastor of a 3,000-member church. >> the sort of family everybody wanted to associate with. the pastor's daughter, leslie. >> i mean, we became the people who we are because my parents were so strong.
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we lived a life that he would want us to live and learn the lessons he wanted us to know. >> and the fact that the reverend mr. douglas was a man of some heft in the baptist church seemed somehow secondary to his nature. kindly, approachable, principled. >> if he wasn't at the church, he was visiting people and helping them work out their problems all the time. >> pastor douglas preached his first sermon at 16, and once he'd grown into a husband and father took his little family all the way down to the jungles of brazil. ♪ ♪ studying about that good old way ♪ it was for leslie and her big brother, brooks, unlike anything they would ever know again. magic time. >> we grew up in a city called bel ame which is right on the
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mouth of the amazon, right where the atlantic meets the amazon river. and finally it occurredvom to m why i love being near the water so much. because that's where i grew up and where i traveled with my dad. >> reporter: and so they were close, as close as a family on its own in such a place as this could possibly be. and accomplished. marilyn douglas could have sung professionally had she wanted to. could have done all kinds of things. >> she was a straight-a student. i just saw her as being so smart and successful in what it was that she wanted to do. >> and what she wanted to do more than anything else was raise brooks and leslie. >> you can see their faces still? >> oh, yes. and i can hear my mom singing. ♪ i seek thee >> she did once. every week at church. and at home where she sewed the outfits leslie wore to compete in miss teen oklahoma. >> i was the one that spent time with my mom, whether it be singing or her making me a new dress for a pageant.
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>> so autumn, '79. 16-year-old brooks was an advanced football-playing senior in high school, making some spending money breeding doberman pinscher dogs. leslie, a precociously pretty 12-year-old, was in middle school. dad was busy and all over oklahoma. a chaplain at the state house. visitor of prisoners at mccallister penitentiary. even preaching a bit on early morning television. >> he was simply saying that death is not meaningless, that it's a part of the overall experience of life. >> and packing them in at putnam baptist. >> i mean, i've matched god's plan with my living, but he knows just exactly how long i'm going to live. i don't. praise the lord for that. >> for the pastor and his wife charity began at home. >> their door was always open. they really, truly cared about people and where they were and how they could help them and how they could serve people.
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>> it was that generosity and openness that would come to haunt them, of course. it was october 15th, a monday, everybody home. >> my mom was in the kitchen. fixing dinner. and leslie wasin the kitchen with her. >> it was brooks who answered the knock at the door. people called in all the time at the pastor's house. this one he didn't recognize. a bearded stranger who wanted a favor. and no one felt the evil then. as it entered the house. >> the first thing, i remember raising my hands and thinking, it always happens to the other guy, never happens to you. and here we are. >> suddenly, just before dinner, terror. >> he had pulled out a .357, had it in my face. and he said, "move over here." >> who was this at the door? when "the haunting" continues. really save you 15% or more on car insurance?
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a little house in the country, just outside okarche, oklahoma. october 15th, 1979. pastor richard douglass and his family were getting ready for a quiet school night dinner. around dusk, a knock at the door. 16-year-old brooks douglass put down his homework, answered it. a bearded stranger stood before
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him. >> he asked if he could use the phone, trying to get hold of somebody that lived near us. so i let him in. he went over and picked up the phone. he said, ah, the phone number's in my other pants. sew went outside. >> and when he returned a moment later, he bent down, reached behind his back, and the awful business began. >> he had pulled out a .357, had it in my face, and he said, "you know what it's all about. move over here." >> a second man armed with a double-barreled shotgun stormed through the door. it was a robbery, the men said. >> i took my wallet out and had 43 bucks in it and handed it to him. "that's all you got? that's all you got?" yeah. then he went through my mom's purse. and then he asked my mom if we had any rope. >> reporter: they pointed their guns, herded the family together, hogtied them.
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>> so he told us all to lie down on the living room floor. face down. and they tied me up with the hands and feet behind our back. >> one stood guard with the shotgun. the other ransacked the house, pulled the phones from the wall. then the man with the pistol returned to the living room. and he looked at pretty 12-year-old leslie, and now the character of the attack changed. >> and he got leslie and he said, i want you to show me where all the other phones are and where your hiding places for money are. and she said, well, we don't have any hiding places for money. he said, well, we're going to find some. and so he put his gun to the back of her head and walked her in the house. and then i heard him walk back into leslie's room and i heard her start crying and saying, "no, no, no." >> you all knew what was going on? >> yes.
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my mom, of course, was laying next to me. and she just was sobbing. and i said, "mom, leslie's going to be okay. we're going to be okay. we're all going to be okay." >> brooks and his parents lay on the living room floor hogtied. and they listened, helpless, as each man took his turn, as each one raped leslie. >> they brought leslie in, tied her up. hands and feet behind her back like the rest of us were. >> i remember that night just thinking, you know, you've got to remember this, you've got to remember this, you've got to remember this. >> the two gunmen helped themselves to the meal marilyn had cooking on the stove. >> they sat down at our table and ate our dinner. >> and then the terrifying round of bargaining began. >> they went back and forth about what they were going to do. at one point he had said if you'll give us four hours before you go to the police, then we won't shoot you. of course, we'll give you four hours. >> then, two hours into their ordeal, the family heard the leader, the one with the pistol, issue an order.
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>> go outside, start the car, turn it around and listen for the sound. >> was it pretty clear to you listen for the sound meant -- >> oh. that's what i took it to mean, was that he was going to shoot us. >> and at that point it came home to you that it was really going to happen? >> i don't think i believed that we were actually going to get shot. i mean, what had we done, you know? >> and all they could do then was wait and pray. >> i remember him walking right up over my head and saying, "well, i don't want to have to shoot you all but" -- and then i heard the first shot go off and felt it hit me. then i felt another shot went off and my mom screamed. and then there was two other shots and then two more. and then i heard him run to the door and go out. >> shot twice in the back, brooks shimmied on his stomach toward his parents. >> then i went over to my mom. and i was untying her ropes with
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my teeth. i was able to get a hold of them and i said, "i love you, mom, i love you, dad." >> they heard that? >> yeah. my dad was like, "i love you, too, get me untied." he said "quit worrying about things, get your mother untied." dad, i'm trying. i said, "mom, your ropes are loose. untie me, untie me." she looked up at me one last time and her head tipped down and she just faded. and i knew she died. and then i went over to my dad and i looked him in the face and i said, "dad, mom's dead." and he never really said anything else. i told him again i loved him. and he said, "i love you." and i said, "it's okay, dad. leslie and i are going to be okay." >> it was the last thing pastor richard douglass ever heard. he died with his son at his side, a son's assurance which the father may or may not have understood to be wishful thinking because brooks and leslie were at death's door themselves.
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>> coming up -- >> you just think, i want to live. i have to do something. i can't just lay here. >> what could they do? the race for life and for the gunmen begins. when "dateline" continues.
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on the night of october 15th, 1979 two drifters raced away from the okarche, oklahoma home of the douglass family. in their wake were the dead and dying. pastor richard douglass and his wife, marilyn, shot to death. 16-year-old brooks and his 12-year-old sister leslie, each shot twice, were hogtied and bleeding beside the bodies of their parents. >> if i was going to live, i needed to make a decision. i remember thinking as long as i can draw breath or even twitch a muscle, i need to keep trying. >> reporter: the house was eerily quiet. and brooks feared his sister, too, was gone. >> i had been shouting to her periodically and she was responding. then she stopped responding. >> reporter: yet, despite being shot twice herself, leslie will somehow escaped her bonds and made her way to the kitchen. >> i looked up and leslie came running in with a knife and cut me loose. >> reporter: you're the one who
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got things going afterwards? >> right, right. >> reporter: where did that come from? >> i don't know. i guess that internal drive that you just think, you know, i want to live. i want to be here. i have to do something. i can't just lay here. >> reporter: brooks and leslie were bleeding to death, both of them. and at least brooks knew it. >> we needed to get to a hospital or we were going to die. >> reporter: brooks carried leslie out to the family car. they were terrified, all but sure the killers must be out there somewhere, lying in wait for them. >> i remember also thinking they might be down at the end of the driveway, so i drove really fast. and they weren't there. and then thinking they might be on the highway. >> reporter: as they raced up route 81, brother and sister had a surreal, surprisingly composed conversation. >> it was very strange. because there was moments of silence. and then leslie asked me, "are mom and dad dead?" i said yeah. they are. and she goes, "so, you know,
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what are we going to do? i guess we'll go live with our aunts and uncles?" i said, "i guess so." i just said, "we don't need to worry about it right now. we just need to -- we need to get better." >> reporter: brooks was doing better than 100 miles an hour in his dad's 1970 plymouth duster. he drove onto the lawn of the okarche home of a family friend, a doctor, blurted out what happened. >> they actually didn't believe us. we were saying we've been shot. mom and dad are at the house dead. help us. then i collapsed as soon as i got in the living room. >> reporter: the doctor and his son carried brooks and leslie to a nearby hospital. >> and then the doctor and his son went to -- went out to the house to check on my mom and dad. >> reporter: the children fought for their lives. in the middle of the night, they were moved to an intensive care unit in oklahoma city. their wounds were appalling. one bullet had nicked brooks' heart. >> it came in this side of my back and collapsed this lung.
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>> reporter: and what about your sister's injuries? >> she was shot twice, and one of them went through her forearm because we had our arms tied together behind our back, then it went through her lower back. and then the second bullet went through the middle of her -- just off the center of her back and came out her chest. >> reporter: the doctor called the sheriff's office. officers reached the douglass home around 11:00 p.m. lynn steadman was the sheriff of the county. >> the preacher reverend douglass and mrs. douglass were still at the residence on the living room floor. >> reporter: dead? >> mm-hmm. >> reporter: pretty shocking thing. >> yes, certainly was. >> reporter: like an execution. >> yes, sir. >> reporter: it didn't take lawmen long to identify their suspects. there had been another home invasion earlier that day in hennessey, oklahoma, just up the
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road from the douglasses. two men fled that crime in a distinctive banana yellow chevy malibu with primer spots. the victims, who were robbed but not physically harmed, gave descriptions. both of the men in the vehicle. investigators were able to trace that distinctive car to an oil field a few miles up the road from the douglass property. two roughnecks working the drilling rig had up and quit that very morning, taken off in a borrowed car. thought they were wanted for parole violations, apparently. they weren't. they thought they were. the two were named steven hatch and glen ake. and they were familiar already to the local police. >> one of them had a burglary conviction. >> reporter: these were petty criminals. >> yes, sir. >> reporter: as police pieced together ake and hatch's activity that day they learned that after the two borrowed the yellow chevy they drove into town and cleaned out their bank accounts. >> each one of them got
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approximately $500 out of a savings account. >> reporter: they bought beer and whiskey and scored some speed and cocaine, then roared off in the borrowed car to rob the family in hennessey. that crime netted more than $1,000 and a double-barrelled shotgun. from there they headed south to okarche and the pastor's modest ranch house out beyond the streetlights. assistant district attorney bill james responded to the crime scene at the douglass home that night. he was starting to help build a case. >> within 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 in the morning, we had the identity of the people and -- because of the prior robbery. >> reporter: they took money out of their bank accounts, then they robbed another place. they had a couple thousand dollars, they had a car, they had guns. why go into yet another house? >> i think it was so easy. they had somewhat of a high from doing it the first time, so they wanted to do it again. >> reporter: the county sheriff, the state police, the oklahoma bureau of investigation, the fbi were all looking for ake and hatch, but the fugitives had at least a six-hour start.
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>> they weren't here. they were gone, yeah. >> reporter: meanwhile, back in an oklahoma city hospital, brooks and leslie douglass clung to life in an intensive care unit, and lawmen had a bad feeling. >> i really was afraid when i was standing on the scene that night, these people are likely to go out and commit one murder after another. because it was just so-called and without thought, without necessity. >> coming up -- >> were you frightened, terrified that they would come back and try to kill you? >> absolutely, yeah. >> round-the-clock protection for brooks and leslie. were they still in danger? >> people don't know where these two guys are. they could be anywhere. >> when "the haunting" continues. s sculptures covered in yellow graffiti. ♪ most whitening toothpastes only remove stains from the surface of your teeth, but there's also a layer beneath called dentin. dentin discolors over time. rembrandt deeply white toothpaste
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it was thursday, october 18, 1979. the choir sang "amazing grace." and 2,000 mourners crowded into putnam city baptist church for the funeral of the church's beloved pastor, richard douglass, and his wife, marilyn. even the governor was there. it was three days after the home invasion, after the murders. the children couldn't be there. brooks and leslie remained in intensive care. brooks took a turn for the worse. >> the morning of the funeral my temperature shot way up, and they thought at that point they
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were going to lose me. but they caught it early, and they treated it. and so it was pretty miraculous. >> reporter: as the mourners listened to eulogies and the douglasses' favorite hymns, a manhunt was on for glen ake and steven hatch. leslie and brooks were kept together under the same hospital room under 24-hour police guard. >> were you frightened, terrified that they would try to come back and kill you? >> absolutely. obviously, it caused some angst. you know, among the police and the family. >> reporter: it wasn't just the still-healing douglass children who were frightened. the enormity of the crime transfixed oklahomans. kjrh tulsa anchor russ mccasty remembers.
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>> this terrible thing has happened. there's a man hunt that's going on. you know, there's a lot of tension. people don't know where these two guys are. they could be anywhere. >> reporter: reports of sightings came in. some of them disturbingly close. what were they up to? bill james was assistant district attorney. were you worried that they'd come back and try to get those other two kids once they learned that they were alive? >> correct. somebody thought they had seen them almost in the okarche area. and we had a manhunt up there. >> reporter: but of course, brooks and leslie douglass were more than just victims, more than survivors even. they were crucial witnesses. >> i went to the hospital and met them. >> reporter: how were they? >> they were pretty stable at that time. they would answer any question i asked them directly. >> reporter: what was interesting about them to you? >> how analytical they were about it in discussing and exact questions and what was going to happen. that they were pretty intelligent kids. and they were actually pretty well in control of their emotions. >> reporter: as you were lying in the hospital trying to recover, trying to understand what had happened to you, what was that like for you? >> it was really strange.
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part of it was i think nobody knew how to react. members of the church would come in to console us and we would wind up consoling them and hugging them. hey, it's going to be okay. we're going to be okay. >> reporter: three weeks after the shooting brooks and leslie were spirited out of the hospital and taken to a secure location still under police guard. it was halloween. >> we were staying in a little house that was owned by the church. and in a residential neighborhood. and a bunch of trick-or-treaters came out, they were adults, and showed up at the door wearing masks. leslie and i both about came out of our skin. and the highway patrolman actually had his weapon drawn behind the door and was telling them, you don't want to be here. that was a scary moment. >> reporter: out of the hospital, orphaned now, the finality of the children's loss sank in all the way.
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>> the hardest thing was the cemetery. i remember walking towards the gravesite. it was just dirt.gob and with a grave marker with both of their names on it. and that was the first moment that it was real to me that they were gone. i just felt like everything that was in me at that moment just fell out, and i remember falling on my knees and just thinking, how senseless. >> reporter: then, imagine this. having survived the deadly attack, having lost their parents, having soldiered through an arduous recovery, brooks and leslie's home and all the family's possessions were auctioned off to pay their medical bills. and so began repercussions neither they nor anyone else imagined. a haunting really that would go
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on for decades. first, the siblings who kept each other alive through crisis and recovery were separated. leslie moved in with relatives in another town and started at a new school. brooks, just a term shy of high school graduation, stayed in the neighborhood with church members so he could finish school. >> at the end of the day i was still, you know, a 16-year-old kid that didn't want to be strapped down in a hospital and i didn't want to be stuck in a house with security. it was all necessary, but it was hard to take for a 16-year-old and a 13-year-old. >> reporter: and glen ake and steven hatch were still out there somewhere. coming up -- worst fears are confirmed. the suspects strike again. and again. >> the car just got away, just disappeared. >> but police are about to get the break they need.
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steven hatch and glen ake were on the run. the day after the murders they called family in oklahoma and learned that lawmen were on their trail for killing pastor and mrs. douglass and shooting leslie and brooks. sheriff lynn steadman led the investigation.
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>> and they ended up that next morning in ft. smith, arkansas. >> reporter: still in the yellow malibu? >> yes, sir. they spent the night, and they walked to the bus station. >> reporter: eventually, police managed to track down their yellow getaway car, abandoned now. but by then they were long gone, had hopped a bus to memphis. >> they spent three nights there drinking heavily. they lost about $1,000 while they were in the motel as a result of a cabbie bringing a couple of hookers to their room. and the hookers rolled them for about $1,000. >> reporter: and after memphis, they wandered around southern louisiana looking for oil field work before hitchhiking to new orleans. there the two found jobs in a carnival. and ake took up with a young woman named virginia ginger keith. >> they hooked up with her and went on the road with her for a while.
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>> reporter: back on the road after they lost those carnival jobs. it happened when they got drunk at work and fired a shotgun in the air. they were just about broke by then except for a credit card they'd stolen from mrs. douglass. by early november, three weeks after the douglass murders, ake, hatch and ginger caught a bus as far as their remaining funds would take them. that was lumberton, texas. >> ake and hatch and virginia keefe arrived there. they were on a continental trailway bus. >> reporter: billy paine was sheriff of harden county back then. >> they got the bus to stop right in front of the house, and they went and broke into the house. the two men did. and virginia stayed out in the woods. and they was going to wait till somebody come home. >> reporter: and when the homeowner returned, a friend along with him, ake and hatch were waiting with a sawed-off shotgun. sheriff payne later found some signs of a struggle, but otherwise the crime scene was a carbon copy of the douglass murders.
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>> they had been tied with the ropes, their feet and hands were bound behind their backs. they had hoods over their heads, and both of them had been shot execution style. >> reporter: payne didn't know then about the douglass case, didn't connect the two right away. but he did have something to go on. the homeowners' new datsun, 280-z was missing. >> we put out a bulletin for that vehicle. >> reporter: hatch, ake and ginger keefe squeezed into the stolen car and headed west. they had a little cash, a gasoline credit card stolen in the texas murders, and marilyn douglass's visa. the trio drove to california, then doubled back east to wyoming, hatch and ake again looking for oil field work. but their murderous road trip was about to end. in a bar in downtown bags, wyoming, ake got drunk, started slapping ginger around. she'd had enough. and at her first opportunity
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spilled her guts to the barkeep. the bar owner alerted the police. by then ake and hatch had escaped into colorado. jeff corville was a detective sergeant in moffat county, colorado back then. >> our deputies found out that the car was associated with ake and hatch and that they were wanted on a number of different murders in oklahoma and texas. they tried to pursue the car, but what we had then was just kind of old pickup trucks for patrol vehicles and, of course, these guys got away real quick. >> reporter: ake and hatch floored the 280-z. lost the lawmen. aware of how dangerous the two were, the searchers scoured the county. >> our guys gave chase, and the car just got away from them. just disappeared about 25 miles north of town. >> reporter: they'd given the cops the slip. low on money and freezing in the colorado winter, ake and hatch were as desperate as cornered animals. they resorted to what they knew. they invade aid ranch house
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belonging to mike pondella outside craig, colorado. >> they got the car stuck in the driveway leading up to his house. they went out of the car, went to his house, basically forced their way in, armed of course, and took pondella hostage. >> reporter: here's how ake and hatch convinced the rancher they meant business. >> mr. pondella had a little dog. he called it his little three-legged dog. the dog went to jump up on the bed, and one of the guys shot and killed that dog. and they told mr. pondella that if he didn't do exactly as they said, he would be next. >> reporter: after ake's bloody warning, the rancher stalled for time. >> he got them to drink a lot of beer. and when they either went to sleep or passed out, he got away from them. so his quick thinking and the way that he handled himself in that situation absolutely saved his life. >> reporter: the rancher met with the sheriff. >> we showed him the pictures of ake and hatch. he instantly identified them as
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the two people that had taken him hostage the night before. >> reporter: the rancher warned the lawmen that ake and hatch had access to an arsenal. >> between the firearms and the ammunition that he had and the firearms and the ammunition that they brought, they were very, very well armed. i want to say close to 30 different firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. >> reporter: early the next morning nearly a dozen lawmen stormed the ranch house. >> and right as we're driving up to the house, we see two men, ake and hatch, jump from a window in the house and run, and they run in two different directions. they were both armed. >> reporter: a deputy fired a warning shot, double aught buckshot over ake's head. >> ake tripped in this irrigation ditch in this meadow and fell down. it was all of our thought at the time that we had hit that guy, that maybe we would have killed him. but not a scratch. >> reporter: ake and hatch surrendered without firing a shot.
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they were taken to the county jail. when their belongings were inventoried, they each had less than a dollar and change, a gas credit card belonging to a texas victim, and pastor and mrs. douglass's wedding rings. >> coming up -- arrested at last. was the long nightmare over for brooks and leslie douglass? or was it just beginning? >> i know the .357 magnum loaded with 38 wire cutters on these people. >> chilling words from a killer.
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it was stunning news. thanksgiving eve 1979, six weeks after the okarche, oklahoma murders of richard and marilyn douglass, the shooting of their children, the manhunt was over.
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>> the governor calls a news conference. it was that big of a deal. they wanted to put people at rest that these two guys weren't out there terrorizing the state of oklahoma anymore. it was a big deal. >> reporter: glen ake and steven hatch, who were by now wanted for questioning in two additional murders in texas, had been captured in colorado after another home invasion. word reached the prosecutor bill james of the el reno courthouse. it was the call he was waiting for. >> i jumped over the railing, ran to the office. we prepared the extradition papers. i put a call in to the governor. he signed them. we had them done in a few hours. >> reporter: why the hurry? why the rush? >> we wanted them. >> reporter: remember the fugitives had committed a double murder in texas, too, but the oklahomans were determined they wanted first crack at ake and hatch, had to get there before
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some lawman in texas beat them to it. the news of the capture was a huge relief, of course, to brooks and leslie douglass. and now the race to bring back ake and hatch. sheriff lynn steadman flew by charter to colorado. >> it was about 2:30 to 3:00 in the morning that we landed at will rogers world airport here in oklahoma city with them. and then took them by car back to el reno. >> reporter: and then the sort of thing that almost never happens. on their way back to oklahoma hatch and ake told the lawman they wanted to make a statement. >> we had a semblance of thanksgiving that day, and then did this that evening, thanksgiving evening at the sheriff's office in el reno. >> reporter: they locked up hatch in this old building here, the old el reno jail. ake they kept in a more secure facility, a more modern place just down the block. thanksgiving night sheriff's deputies collected the two of them, took them around the corner there and down to the
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sheriff's office so they could deliver those confessions they seems to eager to make. and so they did. apparently without any remorse or emotion, first hatch and then ake calmly described their activities on that murderous night. >> i was standing by the end of the couch, and i unloaded the .357 magnum loaded with .38 wadcutters on these people. i continued to run out the door. the dog was all barking at me. so i slowed down a walk, walked out the door, then drove off. drove off. steve asked me what i had done and he told me, i should have never done nothing like that. >> they told us they didn't do that kind of stuff, in their words, unless they were drunk. and they had been drinking heavily the day that this happened. of october 15th, '79. >> reporter: taking drugs as well?
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>> yes, sir. in one of their areas they mentioned some speed. ake even mentioned cocaine that they had taken. >> reporter: glen ake made it clear in his statement that he was the shooter. he was in charge. >> this shouldn't be on steve's part because steve can't kill nobody because he don't have no guts to do nothing. all this doing was my brain, not his. >> reporter: why did hatch go along with him? >> hatch was a -- and this is ake's words. hatch is a follower. ake said, "i'm the strong one and made all the decisions." >> reporter: hmm. so it was like a big dog, little dog, and hatch would follow along behind him? >> mm-hmm. >> reporter: ake told the sheriff that he and he alone was the trigger man. not only in the douglass killings but in texas as well. the other incident was the shooting of those two fellows in texas. did ake tell you about that or about why he pulled the trigger then?
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>> he said that he had to do it because steve hatch was just too weak to do it. >> reporter: he was afraid to pull the trigger? >> yes, sir. >> reporter: did either one of them express remorse in these statements? >> the only remorse that i got was ake said that i want the death penalty. >> on all this here i want the death penalty. and i want an injection as soon as possible. after -- i'd like to have a little bit of time, i'd like to see my parents and my nephew, then i'm ready to get executed. >> reporter: he knew what he had done. >> yes, sir. >> reporter: for brooks and leslie douglass, the capture of the killers appeared to put an end to their ordeal. little did they know. >> did you have any idea how much you still had to go through even though they caught them? >> oh heavens, no. no idea. >> reporter: you figured it was sort of done at that point probably? >> yeah. >> reporter: naive little you. >> oh, yeah.
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>> reporter: coming up, the trial begins. face to face with their parents' killers. >> it was like i had to pretend like i was somebody else. >> reporter: reliving that painful, fateful night. whe"datel ce"on"dtinues. that can of pledge under your sink isn't just a great way to clean wood. pledge is also gentle on leather. safe on stainless. missed a spot. great for shining motorcycles... wood? come on. it's pledge. car seats and dashboards. hey there! it cleans laminate furniture... or whatever that was. even granite. today, pledge shines a whole lot more than just end tables. [ male announcer ] for a quick dusting, try pledge wipes. [ female announcer ] sc johnson, a family company. i'm gonna need my biggest player. a change in the lineup? [ female announcer ] one bottle of ultra dawn has the grease-cleaning power of two of this competing brand. [ sponge ] way to go, kid. [ female announcer ] dawn does more... [ sponge ] so it's not a chore.
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by the early weeks of 1980, brooks and leslie douglass had healed sufficiently to return to school. healed physically, that is. but now, shellshocked after the murder of their parents the previous october, they struggled. any semblance of teenager normalcy forever lost to them. and they coped separately. leslie had moved to another town. brooks was still in the old neighborhood near his high school. and they still had no idea that oklahoma winter that the legal trials of the men who killed their parents, which were about
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to begin, would become their own decades-long tribulation. despite their long and detailed confessions, glen ake, the triggerman, and steven hatch, his accomplice, had pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering reverend richard dug sxls douglass and his wife, marilyn, and shooting the douglass children. steven hatch was tried first at the canadian county courthouse. >> hatch was a follower, but he's the one that picked out the house that night. he's the one that wanted to commit another crime. and he's the one that created the energy, actually, for the second crime. >> reporter: and the state of oklahoma looked to have an ironclad case against him. most important, of course, the harrowing stories of the eyewitnesses and survivors, leslie and brooks douglass. then hatch and ake's thanksgiving statements, those confessions. the state also had ballistic evidence linking them to the murders and the testimony of ginger keefe, their traveling companion while they were on the run. keefe, who was never charged
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with any crime, testified that ake and hatch told her about killing the douglasses and shooting brooks and leslie. >> we had two surviving witnesses. we were able to identify who the people were. we were able to put the bullet in. you know, we somewhat kept it simple. >> reporter: simple? for the judge hearing the case, maybe. but certainly not for those surviving witnesses. brooks had already testified once in the preliminary hearing. but both he and his sister would have to relive it all for hatch's trial. >> 13-year-old leslie douglass appeared in court for the first time since the shooting that left her and her brother critically wounded and her parents dead. >> reporter: how did those two kids do on the stand? >> i thought they did excellent. they were good. they did well. >> reporter: stood up under cross-examination? >> yeah. we tried the case in chief in one day. just one witness after another. >> reporter: altogether, the hatch case took three days of the court's time. hatch testified in his own defense. he was convicted, sentenced to
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death. glen ake's trial in early summer didn't take much longer. but in the courtroom they kept him under heavy guard. ake was volatile, unpredictable. >> ake was really mean. i mean-e just was a mean person. >> reporter: sheriff lynn steadman testified for two hours about ake's thanksgiving confession. but once again, brooks and leslie were the star witnesses for the prosecution. they both calmly identified glen ake as the man who shot them and murdered their parents. did you watch the children's testimony? >> yes. brooks was very strong in his testimony. leslie was, too. but it bothered her more than it did brooks to testify. >> it was like i had to pretend like i was somebody else just telling a story of what happened. and it's kind of like the night that it happened and i had to remember all this, i have to remember all this. >> reporter: that promise that leslie douglass made to herself the night her parents were killed, not to forget anything,
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that's what carried her through, she said. >> i didn't know why. i just knew that i had to remember every detail. and so whenever it was time to be on the stand, i knew that everything that i said was important. and that i had to be specific and remember. so it was like, i don't know what got in my head, i just have to remove all emotional attachment. >> reporter: the jury needed just two hours to make up its mind. ake was convicted. he was sentenced to 1,000 years for shooting the douglass children. and as for the murder of brooks and leslie's parents -- >> we the jury impaneled and sworn to try the issues in the above-entitled cause do upon our oaths having heretofore found the defendant glen burton ake guilty of murder in the first degree fix punishment at death. >> reporter: so end of the road for ake and hatch.
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or so lawmen and prosecutors assumed. sheriff steadman escorted ake to mcalester penitentiary and death row. >> when i took glen burton ake to mcalester, oklahoma to be processed in by the department of corrections, when we got out of the car, i told him, glen, this is the last time i will see you until i come back to see you die. >> reporter: with this monstrous chapter of their lives apparently over, leslie and brooks began to thrive. leslie, living in that new town with her mother's family, became a stellar high school student, a cheerleader, college bound. >> how in heaven's name did you go on to do all the things that you did like any regular teenage person? >> i think it's because my mom saying one night, if anything ever happened to them, she wanted me to be strong and move on with my life. and i remember crying, going, mom, why are you saying that? nothing's ever going to happen to you.
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but i think it was one of those things that i just had in the back of my mind and it helped me push through things. >> reporter: through those first trials and in the years immediately after, brooks also felt his parents were somehow still with him. >> i was able to, at least during that first couple years, and even now, but especially i think in that first few years, i could hear them, hear their voices as -- you know, i was having to make decisions or do things. and so i felt like they were still with me. and it wasn't until years later somebody said, oh, you're an orphan. >> reporter: oh, yes, he was. and because of what happened to make him one, both the law and life began now to spin in very strange directions. certainly beyond his control. as it began to look like his parents' killers might just
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escape justice after all. coming up -- >> there was an audible gasp. >> brooks and leslie return to the courtroom. >> i screamed and then he shot me again. >> but this time, the outcome will be very different. when "the haunting" continues. you could save a bundle with geico's multi-policy discount. geico, saving people money on more than just car insurance. ♪ geico, saving people money on more than just car insurance. with resolve deep clean powder. the moist powder removes three times more dirt than vacuuming alone while neutralizing odors for a clean you can see, smell and really enjoy.
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some days it seemed that for every step forward he made, brooks douglass took two back. he made it out of high school all right, though orphaned with his sister bied murder of his parents and haunted by the complications of survival, grief, confusion, he was adrift. though scattered might be a better word for those years after brooks headed off to college. >> i went to six or seven
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different universities because i call it my road scholar days because i'd either go for eight weeks and either get kick out or leave, drop out, drive down the road to the next school, enroll there for six, eight weeks and so i was having a hard time. get in, had a hard time focusing. >> reporter: and legal developments over the next few years didn't make it any easier. the appeals of the two men convicted of killing brooks' parents seemed to be drifting, too, deflected, scattered and confusing. a u.s. supreme court ruling on death penalty in a far-off case in florida led to hatch's death sentence being vacated twice. and therefore, more uncertainty for the douglass kids, more legal hearings. >> if this case doesn't fit the aggravating circumstance that it was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, i can't
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imagine a case that would. >> reporter: his sentence reinstated, stephen hatch went back to death row. meanwhile, the trigger man had been filing appeals from a nearby cell. in february of 1985, six years after the douglasses were murdered, the united states supreme court ruled that he deserves a new trial. prosecutors had failed to provide a psychiatrist at state expense. kathy stoker was the d.a. >> i contacted brooks and leslie and indicated that we would have to retry ake. i'm sure they just thought, will this ever end? >> reporter: that was exactly the stunned siblings' reaction. once again they opened their psychiatric and emotional wounds once again for the court. >> this is the thing that's so remarkable, you're able to go there again and again, in places that are daunting and difficult,
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and yet you clearly feel that same emotional turmoil every time it comes up. >> i do. >> here you are sitting with us, you're feeling it all again. >> you'd think 31 years later it would be different. i always get a little emotional and start remembering and think, wow, you know, i can't believe it's been this long. >> reporter: as ake's second trial began in february 1986, his lawyer laid out the defense's case. >> we entered a plea of not guilty by the reason of insanity. and that -- we'll maintain that defense throughout the trial. >> reporter: after six years in maximum security, glen ake was nearly unrecognizable. sheriff lynn steadman was in charge of security. >> in the second trial, he made not a sound during the trial. he had let his hair grow long and he set there with his head down looking at the table the
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entire trial. >> reporter: but jurors heard from other witnesses. despite the passage of time, details of the crime remained chilling. >> reverend douglass was again laying on his back. his feet were also tied together with a cord-type material. >> reporter: although ake never took the stand, never even said a word to his lawyers, the jury heard his thanksgiving statement. >> who did you shoot first? >> then came the eyewitnesses to the carnage that light, leslie suggest gla douglass, now a college student -- >> i heard two more shots and that hit my father, then i
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screamed, he shot me again. then i heard him run out the door. >> i was amazed by her courage. she had to go back there in her mind and tell you exactly what happened, what she did. she did not falter. >> and she was rock-solid. >> yes. >> brooks douglass wasn't spared his turn on the stand. >> i felt the bullet hit me and i heard another one go off and my mother scream. >> reporter: the core of the defense case was the testimony of the psychiatrists. three of them. >> do you believe that he was insane on the 15th of october, 1979? >> yes, sir. i'm convinced that that date mr. ake did not know right from wrong. >> reporter: and throughout it all, in court, glen burton ake remained silent. presented himself more like a mental patient than a convicted murderer. sheriff steadman watched and
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decided it had to be a ploy. he was feigning insanity. >> he'd had about five years or so to come up with this act. >> reporter: but did the jury see what the sheriff believed he saw? the decision when it came was quite a surprise. >> i remember when the verdicts were read in the courtroom. there was an audible gasp. >> we, the jury impaneled and sworn in the above entitled cause do pon our oath find the defendant glen burton ake guilty in the first degree for the death of richard barry douglas and fix his funnishment at life in the state penitentiary. >> no death penalty. this time the jury spared his life. he would come off death row. >> the jury came back and sentenced ake to life for each of the murders and to 200 years each for the shootings of the
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children. >> but wait a minute. stephen hatch who did not fire a weapon faced execution, but ake, the triggerman, got life. brooks was floored. >> as i heard the decision read, what was going through my mind was, that i could just see my parents dying and knowing that they would never be fully avenged, that they died, that this person took their life, and yet he's going to allow to continue living and at our expense. >> reporter: as brooks saw it, after all this time, all the suffering, his parents, his, his sister's, glen ake had plain cheated the executioner. that day after sentencing, a shell-shocked brooks escaped into a hall wway followed by sheriff's deputies escorting glen ake back to a prison cell. there they were, standing feet
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apart. brooks looked at ake and something in him snapped. he saw the deputy passing by. his revolver tantalizingly close, and in that moment brooks douglass contemplated murder. he reached for the officer's weapon. >> you saw at one point him being led somewhere and there was a deputy with a gun. >> just by chance i walk out of one door of the courtroom and he came out if front of me and it was actually kathy stoker that grabbed my arm. >> she saw what you wanted to do. >> yeah. >> you might have done it. >> i might have done it. two can play that game. you know? if he can play crazy, i can, too. >> wow. so that crime had done a lot to you after all. >> yeah. >> but brooks knew, he said, that he wouldn't, couldn't, have done it. even if the prosecutor had not stayed his hand. he told us he had went back to the night he was shot and
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bleeding and made his decision to try to save himself. >> why did i get off that floor. i did get off that floor to go kill them? no. is that what my parents would have wanted for me? i'd have been much better off to have died that night. i needed to live my life and i'd never be able to do it as long as i was holding that -- like that. >> reporter: but of course, at that moment he could have no idea that this was not the last time he'd encounter the man who killed his parents. no. they were destined to meet again. coming up -- a confrontation with a killer. >> what did you see in him? >> powerful emotions. long-buried demons. >> what i really wanted was for it to be -- was for it to be over. >> reporter: when "dateline" continues.
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>> reporter: as the years rolled by, it seemed as if the emotional and psychic wound inflicted the nights brooks and leslie douglass were shot and their parents murdered might never heal. but they did learn to live, and any outsiders might think they had learned that lesson well. leslie, the cheerleader and high school homecoming queen, went on to college, then graduate school, became first a teacher, later an assistant principal, had a family, two children of her own. >> i never wanted to seem like this person that just, you know, hid and fell apart and be the stereotypical person that goes
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through all this kind of stuff and i wanted to make something of myself and if somebody said, well, she's never going to be okay, she's not ever going to go to college, so i went to college and i got a master's degree. you know? it was just one of those things, i don't like people to tell me i can't accomplish things and do things because they think i'm going to allow everything that's happened affect my whole life. >> reporter: brooks finally stru struggled through college. took an army rotc commission, went to law school and got married. but again and again, both put their lives on hold to unpack their awful memories for trials and appeals and parole and clemency hearings. for glen ake and stephen hatch. how many times did you have to testify? >> i think it was a total of nine. >> what did it do to you? >> as soon as i would hear, "you need to go testify again," my mind would go to that place and two just -- it was a month of --
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or however long -- leading up to it -- apprehension and the fear. just plain old fear. >> reporter: in 1990, 11 years after the murders, just out of law school, just about broke, frankly, with a marriage headed south, brooks decided, almost on a whim, to run for the oklahoma state senate. was it that frustration with the system that made you decide to go and finish your law degree and to get involved in politics? >> i remember feeling helpless and looking for what are ways that i can begin to gain a little bit of control over what's happening to me. >> didn't this seem absolutely ludicrous to you? >> i think i was really sort of oblivious. >> you didn't know what was impossible. >> nobody told my he couldn't do it, so, yeah, why not, let's do it, let's try. >> reporter: he won. it was, he would say, an upset.
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it made him, at 27, the youngest senator in oklahoma history. a tv reporter covering the c capitol became his close friend. >> his teenage years were pretty rough. he struggled for a long time but he was starting to put the pieces back together. and i think that at that point he was red do i start moving forward with his life. you could see a transformation. >> reporter: he met another young senator, later governor, brad henry. >> it was just kind of natural that we gravitated toward one another because we were the youngest by a long shot and even though he is a republican and i'm a democrat, we just became very, very good friend. >> reporter: it was in his second year in the senate when brooks found the cause close to his heart -- >> victims' rights was simply
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one of those things that nobody talked about. >> reporter: but of course, that was the core speeexperience of life. did he know how the system treats victims of crime? oh, yes, he did. so he introduced oklahoma's first victims' rights act. >> the jury never hears one word about the family or not considering how brutal that crime was. this person took another individual's life in these cases. >> reporter: the victim's rights movement was in its infancy then. it met resistance from judges and prosecutors. >> he was very, very passionate and focused on victims' rights. and who could argue with him? there's nobody in the senate, or in the house for that matter, who had been through that kind of a traumatic experience. >> reporter: the law's passage was a huge victory for brooks and his allies in the legislature. and personally for him? well, it happened during his second term in the senate.
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revelation. and not a happy one. for all he had accomplished, all he had overcome, the grief, the fury, the drift, the confusion, it wasn't enough. perhaps it was his long dead father still whit pspering in h ear, something he needed to do. he found himself on a legislative tour on oklahoma's infamous maximum security prison at mcallister. it housed the state's most dangerous prisoners including glen ake, the trigger man in his parents' murder and in an even more secure wing, stephen hatch, ake's accomplice, waiting out his final days on death row. at first, brooks was afraid he might run into glen ake behind the wall here at the penitentiary. he was nervous about that, wanted to avoid it. but then something started gnawing at him and eventually he realized he knew what he had to do, he had to confront the man who had murdered his parents, the man he'd contemplated killing outside that courtroom
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years before. so he went to see the warden. being a senator does have its perks. glen ake agreed to a meeting, to everyone's amazement. it was february 1995. brooks douglass found himself sitting across a table from the man who had murdered his parents and shot him and his sister. >> i said for 15 years i've wanted nothing more than to see you dead and i still want it. and hearing some of that, hearing myself say that was very, very strange. >> reporter: you had to confront the fact that you just said that to this man. >> yeah. >> reporter: that you wanted him dead. >> i wanted him dead. >> reporter: and by saying it, something went click inside. >> yeah.
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that what i really wanted was for it to be -- was for it to be over and i didn't realize how much i think that was dominating my life. >> reporter: it was not what he intended to do. didn't know what he would do when he found himself sitting face to face with his parents' killer. but now the words came out and he realized he meant them, completely. he forgave glen ake, and inside him he said the reaction was almost physical. you were now in the one in the position of having to forgive the unforgivable and were confronted at the same time with your desire to see these guys die for what they did to your
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parents. >> right. >> what reaction did you see in him? >> he was completely remorseful, which surprised me right off the bat. and when that moment came was when he was messing with cuffs and was trying to wipe away tears. >> reporter: brooks confided in his friends. >> he calls me after the meeting and i said, how did it go? and he said, i forgave him. and there's just silence on the phone for a minute. my jaw's on the floor. >> the thing that really purged his soul was this forgiveness that washed forward, that he really couldn't explain and i think he surprised himself that he actually would affirmatively forgive his parents' murderer. i think because of the teachings of his father, and his mother,
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was able to find that forgiveness inside. somehow. and i think it has been a tremendous, tremendous load off of his shoulders. >> reporter: leslie's reaction was more muted. >> he had told me about meeting with ake. and him forgiving him and me having a hard time understanding it. >> is forgiving part of moving on like that? part of guesting past it? >> i think it is. i mean i feel like i've forgiven. you can forgive, but it just doesn't change the circumstances sometimes. >> reporter: but there is a difference between forgiveness and forgetting. the state of oklahoma, along with brooks and leslie douglass, had some unfinished business with stephen hatch. not the trigger man, no. but a murderer? yes. coming up -- >> i was afraid to sleep at night. i was afraid somebody was coming
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to get me. >> another legal confrontation and another staggering surprise. a new part of the story after all these years. when "the haunting" continues.
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it was 18 months after that extraordinary meeting with glen ake, the one at which brooks douglass forgave his parents' killer. the other man convicted in their parents' murder, stephen hatch, was scheduled to die. brooks had tried to meet with hatch on death row. he was rebuffed. appeals exhausted, hatch's execution date was set in the summer of 1996. there was a final clemency hearing.
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brooks and leslie would have to testify against him. one last time. hatch pleaded for his life. >> i'm sorry for the mapain the children, brooks and leslie douglass, continue to feel. i can say sorry for the rest of time and that would not be enough. i could die 100 times and it would never be enough to make up for what had happened. >> reporter: and testimony that astounded rusty douglass and brought back all the horror. >> i had found out some things that the clemency hearing that i was not aware of and so it kind of shattered my world. >> reporter: it happened at the very beginning when the state brought those murder charges against ake and hatch in the first place. they chose not to put leslie through the additional trauma of testifying about the rape. after all, they could prove murder easily. and leslie never knew, not in all those years, that the killers denied raping her.
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then clemency hearing hatch stuck to his story that had he not sexually assaulted her. >> they had denied raping me and so i think right then it just really threw me for a loop. i was only supposed to talk like 30 second and it ended up being three or four minutes because i was so upset and remembered every minute of it like it was happening right then. >> i was afraid to go to restaurants. i was agrad to sleep at night. i heard noises that would wake me up because i was afraid somebody was coming to get me. and not onlidy not get to go to my parents' funeral, i denied that that he had died. >> he just still even after all these years seemed like there was no remorse and -- >> not only denying that he did it, but calling you a liar.
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>> right. and it was just like i just could see where that poor 12-year-old girl could have thought that i did or this happen -- >> i was like, there's no thought. it did. >> reporter: the clemency appeal was denied. and so on august 9th, 1996, leslie and brooks douglass drove from oklahoma city to mcallister prison to witness stephen hatch's death. >> all of the filings at the supreme court have been denied and we have a green light to proceed with the execution shortly after midnight. >> reporter: a brother and sister among the first family members ever to witness the execution of a murderer. that they could do so at all was because of additional victims pea's rights legislation brooks helped pass that year. >> the night of the execution an they give them an option of making a last statement? he didn't even say anything. >> he knew you were there. >> right. that just kind of left me kind of numb? kind of stunned? just like, wow.
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you know? isn't that what we all want to do is change the things that we've done in life that we regret? and go back and mend those things or ask for forgiveness? because he took a big huge part of me. >> reporter: just after midnight, 17 painful years after their parents were killed, leslie and brooks watched stephen hatch strapped to a gurney die by lethal injection. hatch left behind a written statement. in it, he called those in sat in judgment of him evil and barbaric and politicians. an hour after hatch was pronounced dead, brooks spoke to the press. >> leslie and i have again witnessed the taking of a life. the first time we did so we were young people who were present when our mother and father were viciously killed. today is the end of a very long ordeal that has dominated our
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lives. >> the family witnessing an execution was so unusual, leslie appeared on the "today" show. >> how has this crime haunted you and followed you since it happened? >> i dealt with it a lot better then but as i become older and have had children, it has become so much harder to try to explain to my children that they're never going to get to know their grandparents, they're never going to see them. >> so was it what you expected it would be? >> i now know that i'm never going to get a call, whether i'm in california or wherever it is that i'm living, outer mongolia, and be told, guess what? i hate to tell you this, but you're going to have to come back and testify against stephen hatch again. it was over. >> reporter: but was it? he had forgiven ake, felt as if he had put that behind him, accepted things the way they were. but according to brooks' friends, he was troubled after
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the execution, and not long afterward his second marriage ended. >> he was depressed for a while. it brings everything back up. you know, when you have to go to the prison and so forth and witness it, it takes you back to that place. and i think that that made it tough for them. >> reporter: indeed it took him right back there. >> one of the more bizarre things was i felt like as i was watching him die, that i was also watching the events of that night all over again. part of us died back there. i'll never forget it. leslie will never forget it. >> no. and nor could either of them have known then that one day he was going to choose his own decision to relive the worst night of his life in living color. >> he was just gut wrenching and
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balling. i just felt so bad for my mom and dad, because, you know, he knew that that was their last day and he was so young and had so much to live for and that whole night was really excruciating for everyone. more real than you would have imagined. coming up -- >> forgiveness and mercy and love. >> i think my parents would be proud. >> freeing his ghosts. the surprising move that helped brooks heal the past. at last. when "the haunting" continues. n. they're itchy, dry and uncomfortable. i can't wait to take 'em out, throw 'em away and never see them again. [ male announcer ] know the feeling? get the contacts you've got to see to believe. acuvue® oasys brand contact lenses with hydraclear® plus technology, keeping your eyes exceptionally comfortable all day long. it feels like it disappeared on my eye. [ male announcer ] discover why it's the brand eye doctors trust most for comfort. if you have astigmatism,
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brooks douglass was restless. the man who helped murder his parents had been executed, the shooter was behind bars for life. and brooks seemed unsure where he belonged. three turns in the oklahoma senate was enough. he started a business, sold it, served as an army officer in the middle east. enrolled in harvard's kennedy
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school of government. where he met and married julia. the crime that so infected his life, well, he did make speeches from time to time about victims' rights. >> it took 14 years for us to get the wedding rings back that these guys had stolen and taken with them and that one of them they actually had to saw it off of him when they caught him. >> reporter: but life was different now. he and julia had two children, settled down in california. and then brooks decided that maybe he could do some acting and writing. >> i was teaching a writing workshop and brooks came to the class and he pitched three ideas. one a sitcom, one a drama, and he proceeds to tell me about his life. >> reporter: paul brown is a hollywood writer and director. >> i couldn't believe what i was hearing. a story about justice and vengeance becomes a story about forgiveness. i thought that was a very unique, important story. >> he said that's the one you need to write. i said, well, i don't think i
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can write it. it's too personal and it's too painful. but he convinced me that i should try it. and so i wrote a few scenes and parts of it were very difficult. i mean extraordinarily difficult. >> oh, yes, difficult. but before long, as important as anything in his life had ever been. could he actually make a movie? he'd never done anything like this before, not even close. a this he believed was the answer. he hired brown to co-write and direct his movie. he raided his bank account and went fund-raising among friends and family, scraped together a couple of million dollars, poured three years into his labor of love. cast hollywood actors, as well as some of his friends. and then called it "heaven's rain," for reasons his father
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would have understood. "heaven's rain" opened late last year, and leslie, who had survived the whole long ordeal in her own private way, had to watch someone else very publicly be her. >> do you realize that every time we go through this i have to relive everything again? and i don't know who's going to show up in my dreams? >> the thing that kept coming into my head was, i wonder how she feels about this. i wonder what she thinks about this. >> it kind of just make me look back at where my head was and what i was thinking. she actually did a great job portraying me because i thought i can say exactly word for word everything she said because those things all came out of my mouth. and you just kind of go on with your life and then you look back and go, wow, i really did live through that.
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it's different. >> it is. it is kind of like seeing yourself as others see you which is something we normally can't do. >> that can be scary sometimes. but now i think my brother has told a beautiful story and, you know, i think my parents would be proud of how he's portrayed our family. >> reporter: leslie herself has a small part, a tribute of sorts, to her mother. marilyn douglass who taught her to sing a lifetime ago. ♪ seven long years since last i saw you ♪ ♪ away rolling river >> she has a beautiful voice and that voice got silenced. in the movie she sings and people that heard her voice were just astonished by how beautiful it is. so i'm hoping that this will be a new chapter for her to start singing again. >> reporter: and brooks? >> i've done local theater here in oklahoma city. so i knew that i wanted to act in this movie.
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>> reporter: act, oh, yes. but in fact there was really only one role he wanted to play -- one he may have been born to -- brooks decided he would portray his own father. >> nothing excited me more than the possibility of really being able to do that as a tribute to my dad. >> reporter: the movie follows brooks and leslie's life, picks it up just after brooks' election to the oklahoma senate, with flash backs to their idyllic years as missionary children in brazil. it is a portrait of an american family with at the heart of it the words he still remembers contained in his father's very last sermon. delivered, of course, by brooks as his preaching dad. >> you see, the joy of life is poisoned by the resentment of past grujs. we have to get rid of the bad
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blood with forgiveness and mercy and love. >> you intentionally put that particular sermon in the movie. >> yeah. a lot of that was the sermon he preached the morning before he died. >> but the theme certainly was forgiveness. >> yeah. >> and it was something he preached and believed in. >> right. >> reporter: thus that title, "heaven's rain." from shakespeare, merchant of venice. the quality of mercy is not strained. it dropeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beflooet. it is twice blessed. it blesseth him that gives, and him that takes. >> i'm so, so sorry for what i did to you and your family. >> i want you to tell me why. >> the truth is, there was no
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reason. two just -- it was just senseless. when they took me off drugs? and i realized what i did, it made me sick. >> reporter: it's the reason he may the movie, this scene. why is that moment one that still makes the emotion come in to your eyes? spl when spl. >> when i was sitting in front of ake? >> yes.>> when i was sitting in of ake? >> yes. >> i think it was so revealing. i look back and it was just building this coat of armor and that was killing me and it was killing my marriages, whatever -- the friendships, at the end of the day, it was protecting me but it was keeping me away from people that i loved.
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>> reporter: there's another scene in the movie, a flashback to the night of the crime and maybe this was the scene he needed to play to finally move on. i wondered how it must have been. you're portraying him when he died. >> that was one of the very few instances in my life where it was actually much harder and much more painful than i started out thinking it was going to be. >> reporter: his wife was with him on set for that one. >> he rushes upstairs before we filmed and he was just gut wrenching balling, saying i just feel so bad for my mom and dad, because, you know, he knew that that was their last day. and he was so young and had so much to live for, and that whole night was really xcruciating for everyone. more real than you would have
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imagined. >> he had to relive that night and i know how hard that was for him and we talked about it and how hard that was going to be and i was glad it was him going and not me because i couldn't have dealt with it. >> reporter: after a loengs anticipating, "heaven's rain," recently came out on dvd. and as if to close another chapter in brooks and leslie's life, glen ake, the triggerman, died in prison of natural causes in april. brooks spends much of his time now promoting the movie, often speaking after group screenings. the film found its early audience among oklahoma churchgoers. >> i'm not sure people can fully appreciate the power that the grace of god has had in your life in granting the forgiveness to the people who have murdered your parents.
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>> reporter: and old wound. he could have left it alone, scarred over as it was. more than once he had turned down book and movie deals proposed by others, chose to let the dead lie. but not now. not anymore. and by opening the wound again himself, he might finally have healed it. you could have just said, no, forget about it. >> forgive someone or something that's happened, or be forgiven. and these are old, very old lessons. it's not anything i came up with. this is what my dad and my mom taught me, and what my faith has taught me and i wanted people to see who my dad was. who both my parents were. and the work that they did and the lessons that they taught me. >> what do you want people to
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take away from this movie of yours? >> the power of forgiveness and the importance of it. if as individuals, as people, if we're going to move on past the things of our past, we've got to find a way to forgive or be forgiven. >> i just look at it as you have to forgive or your heart's not clean and you just can't move on. you just drel on it and dwell on it. especially when people have hate for people. i couldn't go on hating these men because that reflects in your own life. if you have hate for people it makes you a hateful person. and i don't want to live like that the rest of my life. >> ake and hatch did some horrible things. they threw some huge curve balls our way. but it's always up to me every day that i wake up, it is up to me whether i want to really live a full life or not. and that's all for now. i'm

tv
Dateline NBC
NBC July 4, 2011 2:00am-4:00am PDT

News/Business. (2011) The children of an Oklahoma pastor survive the robbery that took their parents' lives and observe the trials of those accused of committing the crime. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Brooks 71, Oklahoma 22, Glen Ake 18, Leslie Douglass 11, Texas 9, Stephen Hatch 9, Brooks Douglass 8, Heaven 6, Colorado 6, Geico 6, Steven Hatch 6, Lynn Steadman 5, Glen Burton Ake 4, Mrs. Douglass 4, Marilyn 4, Ake 4, Richard Douglass 4, Virginia 3, California 3, Malibu 3
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